Friday, July 1, 2011
2 more chances to get this right...
Yesterday I blogged about what the past few weeks of camp have been like. I left one thing out though. Partially because of shame. Partially because I was still processing it. Partially because I was low on time as I wrote it. But I think that it's important and I want to share it.
This week we are hosting a family camp. We have three families that are here. One of them is our weeks nurse's family. We have another family of 4 from a local church. Then we have an aunt and her niece and nephew. Here's where it gets interesting. I knew about this family for a while. The niece and nephew are both coming back for a full week over the summer. The girl is here next week for our girl's week program. The boy is back in a few weeks for boys camp. Sounds normal so far. Here's the thing. The boy is from Spain. The girl is from Columbia. The aunt lives in the States. The Aunt is the only one to speak English.
As the guy running the summer program, I have some reservations on this. There is a huge language barrier. We have one guy on staff this summer that is also from Spain so he can interpret. And we have a female counselor for girl's week to interpret for the girl. But I look at a safety issue. We have some big ranges here. Large pool, rifles, shotguns, trips to the lake and down the Delaware River. Archery, horses, and 200 acres to get lost on. Okay, that aside. The mission of the camp is to "grow boys into Godly men" (adapted to growing girls into Godly women for girl's week). We put together a full spiritual theme with dramas and songs for the summer. Our staff lead discussions and devotions at night. We have a guest speaker at a campfire one night and a staff member sharing their story at another campfire later in the week. And these two kids can't understand it. So are we really meeting our mission? Okay, that aside. These two kids are isolated. They will continue to be isolated as they cannot communicate with anyone other than one the interpreter. We don't mix the girl's week with boys camp so they won't even have each other. Every part of me says this is bad for the child. You never want to isolate them. Yet, here we are without much choice.
All of these may seem like pretty legitimate concerns. In fact, they probably are. No, they definitely are. But I missed something. I wrote a blog a few months ago that I called a language louder than words (click this link to read it: Click here! :) ).
How quickly I forget. I wrote yesterday a bit about Peter and how he really messed up a bit. I feel a bit more like that as I write this. I focused so much on the language barrier. The other night I remembered writing this blog on how much louder actions can speak. It started to hit me as we were swimming the other night. The girl and her aunt joined us in a 3 on 3 game of water basketball. This girl had a great time. She was laughing and high-fiving. And she was better than most of us too. Apparently back in Spain basketball is her sport. Before that there was a staff vs LGP game of soccer. The boy went down and played that with our staff. Soccer is his sport. I wasn't there but I'm told that he was the star player! Then I started to watch them at meal time and during our dramas. They were both laughing and enjoying it. I'm not sure how much of the message was translated accurately, but they were having fun. It hit me again that we don't need to speak the same language to show compassion. These two kids seem to be having a great time. I watched as the girl interacted with another daughter here last night as we played a game called counselor hunt. It's basically where the staff (and parents this time) hid in the woods with candy and the kids had to tag them to get candy. This other daughter hung around with the girl from Spain as they looked for staff and parents together. It was awesome to see. They found their own way to communicate.
What gets me the most is that I could make it this long with this low of an attitude about the situation. It's not ideal, but it's happening. I've been striving in other areas to keep a positive outlook on other policies that I may not agree with. But somehow this one slipped through. The good news is that both these kids are coming back again. For me, that means a do over. I get two more chances to get it right. Yes, there are still some concerns that I have with safety and such. But my job is not to make others worry about those things. I trust the guys that I have running ranges here. I trust the counselors with the groups. It will work out. Two more tries to get it right...